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Kevin Durant, Thunder overwhelm and blow out Heat

Jan 29, 2014, 11:16 PM EDT

Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat Getty Images

For the first six minutes of this game, it felt like 2012 all over again — Miami’s defense was smothering, Miami’s offense was finding space and knocking down shots. Meanwhile the red-hot Kevin Durant could not fine room to make his play.

For six minutes the Heat looked like the two-time defending champs and the Thunder looked a couple steps behind them.

Then everything turned.

It started when Jeremy Lamb and Derek Fisher came in and started knocking down threes. Kept going as Scott Brooks sent Kendrick Perkins to the bench and went with a smaller, more mobile lineup — then broke form and kept it for the second half, with Perry Jones starting in place of Perkins (and not shockingly, it worked, I don’t understand why Brooks is so stubborn sticking with Perk). It started when the Thunder started sharing the ball like a contender — two passes after the Heat’s defensive trap to get an open look.

It ended with a 112-95 Oklahoma City rout of the Heat.

If you had any questions about if the Thunder were really title contenders this season, here was your answer.

Kevin Durant finished with 33 points, making it a dozen games in a row over the 30 point mark. The league record is 16 by Tracy McGrady and Durant could well catch him.

However, what really matters is he was efficient racking up those points — 12-of-23 shooting overall and 4-of-9 from three, plus he had seven assists and five rebounds.

LeBron James had 34 points on 20 shots, the rest of his game was bottled up and he had three rebounds and three assists.

What’s more is Miami turned the ball over on 22.7 percent of its possessions Wednesday night — more than 1-in-5 times down the court they coughed it up without a shot. Those became fast break points going the other way for OKC — 11 of those fast break points in the second quarter when the Thunder turned the game around. After his cold start Durant got his rhythm converting those turnovers into easy transition buckets, and once he got his rhythm he was knocking down threes from Epcot Center.

Miami wants to play fast but as part of that they want to attack the rim and the heat stopped that and settled for jumpers much of night. Often ones early in then shot clock. Which went poorly. After starting 2-of-3 from deep the Heat missed their next 15 three pointers. Yet they kept settling, they kept firing away.

Meanwhile Oklahoma was 10-of-16 from three at one point in the third quarter and finished the game 16-of-27 from deep. The Thunder’s fantastic ball movement exploited the Heat traps, on Durant and everyone above the three-point line, by making two and three passes after the trap to find the open man. Then they hit the shot.

Serge Ibaka finished with 22 points, Jeremy Lamb 18 and Derek Fisher 15 as he turned back the hands of time and was 5-of-5 from three.

Chris Bosh had 18 points and 9 rebounds, playing a solid game. Dwyane Wade had 15 points and looked just a step slow.

That’s nine wins in a row for the Thunder, who still get to add to Russell Westbrook to the mix. That was Kevin Durant grabbing ahold of the MVP race.

As much as can happen in a January game (which isn’t much), that was the Thunder making a statement.

  1. watup45 - Jan 29, 2014 at 11:28 PM

    This just let’s u know that this team is and will be good with another guy. But that that get all the call james and wade are failing to try and win another title . Its time for pacers and thunder

  2. kb2408 - Jan 29, 2014 at 11:33 PM

    LBJ fans always throw his numbers up when saying his better than this player or that player. Well, KD had 1 less pt, more rebounds and more assists. Then if it’s not his overall stats they throw up the “he’s a better defender” argument. Well, how is it that the Heat are a better

  3. kb2408 - Jan 29, 2014 at 11:35 PM

    Team this season with LBJ on the bronc than they are when he’s in the court? KD is not only the MVP of the league but he is also the best player in the world.

    • spthegr8 - Jan 30, 2014 at 12:01 AM

      If he keeps this up, They may as well give him the MVP trophy right now. To have them in 1st place without Russ… Is CRAZY!!! 12 straight games of 30 plus but he just isn’t scoring, his Rebs and assist are up also. Outside of Ibaka, he has a bunch of role players right now & they beat the Spurs in Sa the other night and tonight they beat the BRAKES off the world champs tonight in there building. Maybe everybody needs too hit the Hookah like KD cuz he is BALLIN!!!

    • fanofevilempire - Jan 30, 2014 at 9:27 AM

      I don’t think the Heat look like a lock to 3peat anymore, Duranchilla is tired of being # 2.
      Can the Heat beat the Pacers, the Heat run may be over.

    • borderline1988 - Jan 30, 2014 at 10:01 AM

      Durant is the best offensive player in the world. In my eyes, he’s better now than Kobe ever was.

      But LBJ is still the best all-around player, because of his superior passing, rebounding and defensive abilities. I’d still want LBJ on my team in the playoffs over Durant, because if the Thunder team goes cold, it won’t matter if Durant scores 40 points. Durant had a sick game yesterday, but without Derrick Fisher going 5/5 beyond the arc, or Lamb stepping it up, the Thunder don’t necessarily win this game.

      Conversely, LBJ can single-handedly will his team to victory by dominating all facets of the game, and getting his team good looks even when the offense stagnates a bit.

    • bougin89 - Jan 30, 2014 at 10:05 AM

      I absolutely agree KD(if the season ended today but there is a lot of season left) deserves the MVP but I wouldn’t go as far as to give him the crown for the best player on the planet yet. Lets wait for the postseason to conclude before we even consider taking the “best player on the planet” crown away from Lebron.

      That being said it’s really fun to watch players absolutely go on a tear and right now Durant is on a tear that few players in league history could go on.

  4. m4a188 - Jan 29, 2014 at 11:40 PM

    Unless somebody else steps up it appears the Heat will go as Wade goes, if he can even make it to the playoffs.

    • casualcommenter - Jan 29, 2014 at 11:47 PM

      I read that Wade had 8 days of rest before coming off the bench in the Heat’s prior game against the Spurs. He then had another 2 days off before tonight’s game against the Thunder, yet he still looked slow and settled for long jumpers against the Thunder rather than attack (he only earned 2 free throws).

      Wade’s inability to attack off the dribble not only hampers his scoring since he’s not a great shooter, but it also limits his effectiveness as a facilitator (2 assists tonight). If he’s unable to take guys off the dribble even with plenty of rest, that’s definitely not good for the Heat going forward.

  5. casualcommenter - Jan 29, 2014 at 11:40 PM

    Perhaps Zach Lowe wasn’t wrong to ask, “What’s wrong with the Heat?”

    When the Heat doubled Durant, Durant quickly passed the ball, which eventually found an open 3-point shooter. It’s not a coincidence the Thunder were so effective from beyond the arc this game because the Heat’s strategy of getting the ball out of Durant’s hands by doubling him early backfired. The key adjustment was Brooks smartly benching Perkins and surrounding Durant with shooters like Lamb and Fisher.

    When the Heat didn’t double Durant, Durant scored at will, even against LeBron. The Heat looked slow on their rotations despite being healthy, at home, and motivated.

  6. truthb3t0ld - Jan 29, 2014 at 11:41 PM

    Wilt Chamberlain holds the record for consecutive 30pt games with 65 during the 1961-62 season. Kobe Bryant, not Tracy McGrady, has the modern era record with 16.

    • dinofrank60 - Jan 30, 2014 at 12:22 AM

      I don’t think NBA basketball existed back in 1961.

    • bikerboy24 - Jan 30, 2014 at 1:07 AM

      I was just about to make a comment on that, before I noticed yours. I knew there was something wrong with the article, as Wilt averaged over 50 points for an entire season. Something had to give.

      Multiple instances of blatant misinformation, combined with several typos in this piece of writing, made it even tougher to read than your typical PBT article.

    • pfic15 - Jan 30, 2014 at 10:40 AM

      What? You expected Helin to research that stat? These guys think the NBA started in 1990.

  7. money2long - Jan 29, 2014 at 11:52 PM

    kd, your time has come

  8. eventhorizon04 - Jan 29, 2014 at 11:53 PM

    Kudos to the Thunder. Durant did an excellent job of defeating the Heat’s double teams with quick passes that eventually led to wide open 3’s. The Thunder’s hot shooting wasn’t a fluke, it was a result of the Heat’s early defensive strategy. Durant then had no problems scoring when he wasn’t doubled.

    Ray Allen’s and Michael Beasley’s deficiencies on defense mean that when they’re not putting up points, they’re liabilities, and tonight they weren’t putting up points. The Heat were the healthiest they’ve been all year with Wade having 10 days of rest the past 2 weeks yet they still looked slow.

  9. livingsacrifice86 - Jan 30, 2014 at 1:02 AM

    That stretch when KD and Lebron went back and forth was awesome. KD is ballin right now

  10. sensiblevoice - Jan 30, 2014 at 1:17 AM

    The grammar and typos in this article gave me cancer…..

  11. slystone111 - Jan 30, 2014 at 2:48 AM

    The torch has been passed, and the decline of LeBron James has begun.

  12. federmattingly - Jan 30, 2014 at 4:10 AM

    The comments about the writing quality and grammar and typos are right on target. “Kevin Durant could not fine room” … why not proofread a little? ……. “If you had any questions about if the Thunder” … about if? What does that mean? I have less typos, and better writing, in my casual emails to friends…….. should we readjust our idea of what NBC is? Is it not a professional news organization?

  13. davidly - Jan 30, 2014 at 5:47 AM

    Dude Ranchula’s run is an impressive one, but he’s not even approaching the record for most consecutive 30 point-or-more games by a guy with a wingspan of a center who does not play the center position. That’d be a certain basketballer who went by the name o’ Skibby MaRue.

    Game: Thabo/Lamb/D-Fish
    Set & Match: tba

  14. 1972wasalongtimeago - Jan 30, 2014 at 6:53 AM

    Heat not doing “Heat” things + Thunder defensive length + Thunder moving the ball & making 3s – Kendrick Perkins = Loooooooooong night for the Heat

    The win/loss doesn’t matter, but the “habits” that the Heat form over the course of a regular season are not being formed up to now. UP TO NOW.

  15. gameisours - Jan 30, 2014 at 7:03 AM

    As a Thunder fan i’m super happy for this win, but I haven’t seen that suffocating defense from Heat, which we were used to. Also 20 or so turnovers are a bit to much. Even if the both teams get to the finals, it wont be nearly that easy.

  16. belleby123 - Jan 30, 2014 at 7:12 AM

    Durant’s stepping up without Westbrook has been unbelievable. This is a guy with the will to win.

    • pudgalvin - Jan 30, 2014 at 8:44 AM

      I want to know if he’s still going to be doing this when Westbrook comes back. I’m a huge Westbrook fan, but they’re gong to have some work to do to figure how to play together when he’s healthy.

      • belleby123 - Jan 31, 2014 at 9:14 AM

        That’s what makes basketball fascinating. You’d think with multiple great players they’d be even better, but that’s not always true. KD has really hit a new plateau, though, and I’d like to see him continue to do it with Westbrook in the mix.

      • ranfan12 - Feb 1, 2014 at 8:38 PM

        Probably not. I mean he’s a good all around player and only seemed to be taking a greater load just because westbrook is outg. I mean there’s 20ppg gone from losing westbrook.

  17. ballin99999 - Jan 30, 2014 at 8:16 AM

    Turnovers killed the heat. And okc played small ball a lot, essentially beating the Heat at their own game. Perry jones and lamb looked like they can contribute in big situation which is a huge plus. Good win overall for OKC

  18. cruzan80 - Jan 30, 2014 at 9:02 AM

    “As much as can happen in a January game (which isn’t much)”

    Thats not how you put it Sunday when the Heat blew out a depleted Spurs team Kurt…..smh.

  19. obmig - Jan 30, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    The Thunder have the best GM in the NBA right now. Not only do they draft guys with potential every year, they also maximize that potential in a very short amount of time. Adams, Jones, Lamb are all going to be very good for a long time. Jones and Lamb could be budding stars. Ibaka is a budding star. Durant is the MVP. Westbrook is a top 15 player in the league when healthy. Amazing job down there by the front office. They should trade Perk.

  20. pfic15 - Jan 30, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    It almost pains everytime I read the name, “Kendrick Perkins”. Why, oh WHY does this guy still have a spot?

  21. antistratfordian - Jan 30, 2014 at 7:00 PM

    This was just one of those games where one team is unusually hot from deep, and the other team is unusually cold. Miami had a very similar game agains the Warriors. These sorts of games are not indicative of either team’s strengths or weaknesses. If you shoot 3-19 from three and the other team shoots 16-27, you are going to lose. You don’t even need to know anything else about the game to understand why. It is never the case where one team is defending the three so well that they’re forcing a team to shoot 15% from deep – that doesn’t happen. On the other side of that, Miami’s three point defense wasn’t so poor that the Thunder had insane open looks thereby shooting 60% – it wasn’t that either. In fact, the Thunder were shooting from very deep – a lot of their threes are just plain “bad” shots because they were so deep and forced. It was just one of those nights.

    One might say “but Miami’s turnovers were the difference” but that isn’t true – the turnovers were caused by the pressure from the lead, which was created by the hot shooting from deep, particularly from Fisher and Lamb who went 9-11 combined.

    • bougin89 - Jan 31, 2014 at 10:50 AM

      Making excuses isn’t a good look, at all.

      • antistratfordian - Jan 31, 2014 at 3:16 PM

        Which is why I didn’t do that. These are facts.

      • bougin89 - Jan 31, 2014 at 4:53 PM

        Except you did.

      • antistratfordian - Jan 31, 2014 at 5:10 PM


      • bougin89 - Jan 31, 2014 at 5:17 PM

        I don’t state my opinions as facts. like_you_do_man_yeah.gif

      • antistratfordian - Jan 31, 2014 at 5:24 PM

        If you want to believe that Miami shooting 14% from three and OKC shooting 67% from three amounted to a battle of strengths and weaknesses, then that’s your deal.

        I’m being more reasonable.

      • bougin89 - Jan 31, 2014 at 5:28 PM

        I would agree Miami didn’t play as well as they could have. Fisher and Lamb were lights out. That was a huge difference although not the only difference.

  22. ranfan12 - Jan 31, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    The winds of change.

    • antistratfordian - Jan 31, 2014 at 5:10 PM

      …do not blow in January.

      • ranfan12 - Feb 1, 2014 at 8:36 PM

        there’s been cold wind blowing through the country all january

      • antistratfordian - Feb 1, 2014 at 8:42 PM

        Not much Heat in the winter – it prefers the summer.

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